Note: This is an edited article that I wrote a few years ago. Despite the fact that our country, and its culture, still celebrates a great day of love - Valentine’s Day - we (as a country), it seems to me, are moving further and further from the Biblical love that we really need. Even in the religious communities, there are so many compromises made with the Truth, that God is dishonored. Given the current attitude of much of our society, now, probably, more than ever, this story needs to be told over and over again, remembered, and fully appreciated!
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
If someone were to ask you "What is the greatest story of love you've ever heard?" how would you answer? Would you immediately think of one of the great classics by Shakespeare such as "Romeo and Juliet"? If you are an American history buff, you might suggest the legendary story of Pocahontas and John Smith. Some might even consider a more modern story from literature, such as the fictionalized Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Also, it’s recorded that the love between the married couple of science, Marie and Pierre Curie, was truly inspirational. Truthfully, a member of the military who does some super extra-ordinary act that costs his life but saves comrades is, in reality, an act of love. While I am not an expert on love stories, factual or fictionalized, I do admit to knowing about some of these and of some acts of valor in combat. However, I say with certainty that none of these is the greatest story of love!
For us believers, the greatest love story ever told is found within God's scriptures. "Which one?" you may ask. Is it the great love that Abraham had for God that he was willing to offer up his only son as a sacrifice (Gen. 22)? No doubt, some would say the immense love that Jacob had for Rachel is truly inspiring (Gen. 29). How about the great love Ruth had for Naomi? (Ruth 1-4) Joseph must have had great love for Mary, his betrothed, to act to preclude her from being scorned by society (Matt. 1&2). None of these, however, can match the ultimate love story that can be found within the Scriptures!
I believe we can all agree that the greatest love story ever told is that of the great love that God, the Father, and God, the Son, have for mankind! The Gospels record the events of, and the reasons for, God permitting Himself to become flesh, to walk on this earth as an obedient Son - Jesus the Christ - and, then, unselfishly, sacrificing Himself, redeeming man from the consequences of sin. "For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) tells us why God did what He did. "Greater love has no one than this…" (John 15:13) speaks to the ultimate act of love — which Jesus performed! Jesus prayed that all believers would have in them "…the love with which You loved Me…" (John 17:26). He also said, “…I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) “And there is salvation in no one else…" (Acts 4:12) Irrespective of any command (Matt. 28:18-20&Mark16:15-16), let’s all resolve that we can't help but tell all with whom we come in contact that:
THE GREATEST STORY OF LOVE EVER TOLD IS THE STORY OF JESUS!
Most of the time when we think, or speak, of “home,” we focus on that place where we live and eat and spend time with our physical family. For many, it is the place of escape from the hustle and bustle of work or school or the other activities that make up our day. In our later, or “retired”, years, home is where we spend more of our time as it becomes the central place of most of our daily activities. Whether in our earlier or later years, home is the place we go for refuge, comfort, refreshment, and to relax or rest. We express this sense of home as the place where we live with our family group.
Home and family can also be thought of in two other ways. Family can be defined, also, as a group of people united by certain convictions or a common interest, affiliation, or fellowship. In this sense we usually think of home in a social setting; this family can be for the purpose of recreational activity, such as a sports team. Family can also be a gathering for a common spiritual or religious interest – a church family. The common interest of the church family is to help each other reach the goal of the ultimate sense of “home” – Heaven.
The Ripon Church of Christ is, truly, a family of God that is rooted - fundamentally and unequivocally - in Christ! We are a family that loves and supports each other as we strive to please Him in our worship and other works of service. When we assemble for worship we honor, praise, and glorify God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our endeavor is to encourage and help each other to remain faithful to The LORD and His Truth as revealed in His Scriptures (Eph. 3:14-19 & 4:1-16; Heb.10:19-25). We know that our God will continue to bless us, as He has in the past, far beyond our ability to imagine or understand! (Eph. 4:20-21)
To our guests: Whether you are with us for the first time or returning again or are in an assembly after an extended absence from “church,” we want you to feel “at home.” We are honored by your choice to be with us and pray that you will experience and feel the love that this congregation of Christ’s church shares – a common love for THE LORD and for each other – and that you, also, will be encouraged and edified (built up). (1st Cor. 8:1)
We are a family rooted in Christ but as with everything in this world it takes much effort, care and love to keep a family strong, safe and firmly rooted. May we never lose heart and allow ourselves to be deceived. For we know Christ and live to serve Him and are awaiting His return as we His body live for Him. May we always remember who has given all for us, so that we may live God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself. That said let's look at Colossians.
Colossians 2:4-12 (I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.)
As we all serve Christ here it doesn't mean we will never have our personal struggles, we all do. We must be humble enough to know the need and to ask for prayers and to accept help with our struggles. All of us are here to help one another stay firmly rooted in our faith and to reach the goal together.
In Him, Chuck Saarloos
How often do we stop and think about how LOVE is presented in the Bible as the motivation for action? JEHOVAH God was motivated by LOVE when He created everything. His LOVE for His people is demonstrated by His presence in their lives, providing them with everything they would need. His LOVE motivated Him to sacrifice His Son to provide the only means by which man could be live eternally. God wants our strongest and greatest motivator for what we say and do to be LOVE!
Here are just a few of the many scriptures that speak to this concept:
Gen. 1:26-28 - Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image…likeness…male and female He created them…God blessed them…
Gen. 1:29 - Then God said, Behold I have given you every plant…and every tree…it shall be food for you…
Gen. 2:18-24 - Then the LORD God said, It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper fit for him…took one of his ribs and…made into a woman…a man shall…hold fast to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Gen. 12:1-3 - Now the LORD said to Abram…I will bless you…I will bless those who bless you, and…in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Ex. 20:5-6 - …for I, the LORD your God…showing steadfast love to…those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Deut. 6:5 - You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart…soul and…might.
Matt. 22:37&39 - You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart…soul and… mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…
John 14:15&23 - If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…My word: and My Father will love him…
John 15:12&13 - …love one another as I have loved you…greater love has no one than…lay down his life…
1 Corin. 13:1-14:1 - If I…have all faith…but have not love, I am nothing…love bears…endures all things…never ends…faith, hope, love, abide…but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love…
Eph. 5:25 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…
1 John 3:23 - And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another…
My hope and prayer is that OUR greatest motivator for what we do and say will always be TRUE BIBLICAL LOVE! May God continue to bless us!
Hebrews 6:17-20 (In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.)
If you have taken refuge and are an heir of the promise of God whom cannot lie, for with Him it is impossible. Then your hope and excitement should be great. All the glories of Heaven that have been spoken from the beginning. For all your belief and diligence, working for the hope of the soul saving Word that is Jesus and following what is commanded of us, everlasting life in Heaven.
So, if it is impossible for God to lie, then should not all men also fear hell? For the fire and brimstone, the pain, weeping and gnashing of teeth that will never end, NEVER END, must also be real. So, if you are reading this and are not sure of the promise or how to attain it, ask one of us and we will gladly share the truth of the Word of God with you.
Romans 6:3-5 (Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.)
There you have it, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died for your sins only to be raised the third day and live again? Believe, confess, repent of your sins and be baptized into Christ and serve Him with us. It's a glorious promise and a wonderful journey.
Do you have a real hope in a real forever future? Don't delay and do something about it today.
Romans 6:8 (Now if we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him,)
In Him, Chuck Saarloos
13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366